The Israeli / Arab conflict is perhaps one of the most notoriously complex works of geopolitics on the planet. The situation has been ongoing over the past seventy years, ever since the state of Israel was created back in 1948.
Depending on who you ask, however, it could even go as far back as the late eighteen hundreds, and if you ask certain other people then this conflict has been ongoing for literally a thousand years. It’s a convoluted and dense mixture of conflicting cultures, political interests, cold-war ramifications, and religious animosity that’s as old as the bible itself.
Donald Trump wasn’t the first politician to try and tackle the situation either. After Britain tossed the entire region over to the United Nations to deal with back in ‘48, many US Presidents have tried to sort the thing out, only to find a massive chaotic mess that they were not prepared for, where the normal rules didn’t seem to apply. It didn’t help that the rest of the middle-east has been destabilized from constant wars and proxy cold-war conflicts.
Israel has only successfully made proper peace deals with two of its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, and only after multiple wars and decades of negotiation. However, that’s all changed. Enter stage right: President Donald J. Trump.
Before the Abraham Accords were announced, however, there were many people that doubted that Trump could make any sort of headway into the situation. Even his staunchest supporters had justifiable reason to believe that the whole thing just wasn’t worth even bothering with. It’s just like how I doubted whether getting a FairGo casino login was worth it.
It didn’t help that early drafts and leaks about what was dubbed “The Deal of Century” didn’t supply much confidence. It wasn’t appealing to the Israelis. It wasn’t appealing to the Arabs. It didn’t address any of the central issues between the two groups either. Neither Trump nor Kushner seemed to have the experience, the wisdom, or the depth of understanding of the conflict that was needed.
Then the announcement of the Abraham Accords was made.
The agreement, signed at the White House, on September 15th, 2020 shocked both supporters and critics. The deal was to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This meant the cessation of conflict, an opening of borders, the establishment of an Embassy, tourism, trade agreements- the whole nine yards.
Most impressive of all is what was requested by both countries in order to make this thing happen. Israel was only required to hold off on annexation of the West Bank. It’s not even a permanent freeze, Israel just has to put it aside for a while. The question is then, why on Earth would the United Arab Emirates agree to such terms?
The answer seems to lie in the classic rule of deal-making. What does each party have, and what does each party want? The United Arab Emirates has never been a major player in the conflict with Israel, and they don’t really care one way or another about the Palestinians or the West Bank. It seems that they have more long term interests in mind.
By allying with Israel, and by extension, the United States, the United Arab Emirates is suddenly in a much better position against Iran- the unlikable, aggressive bully of the Middle-East. In addition, opening up the economy to Israel and the West suddenly brings in a massive economic boost. Tourism and trade are going to provide the UAE with plenty of good moolah, and good moolah is always a strong incentive.
This is all without even discussing the rumor that by agreeing to the accords, the US might be willing to sell F-35s to the United Arab Emirates. Since F-35s are some of the most advanced aircraft in the world, produced and sold by the US, the possibility of getting such a huge tactical advantage over its neighbors. Again though, this is an unconfirmed rumor and may not happen.
I wish it was just as easy as “RAT! SPLAT! BAM!” and voila, let there be peace. It’s usually a lot more complex than that. Details have to hammer out, and the treaty has to be ratified by the Israeli Knesset.
Even with all this success, the deal still has its critics. The main arguments against the deal are partisan. Israel’s left-wing believes the deal doesn’t do enough for the Palestinians. The Left-wing-bloc wants a two-state solution, and aren’t satisfied that annexation of the West Bank wasn’t removed from the table entirely. Meanwhile, Israel’s right-wing doesn’t like that annexation was pushed off at all. However, I believe that these critics are a minority, and the majority of Israeli citizens are very much enthusiastic about this peace deal with the United Arab Emirates.
It doesn’t stop there, however. The country of Bahrain announced a similar treaty within a week of the first one, for much the same reasons. More than that, Donald Trump has promised that around ten other Arab nations are interested in pursuing such deals, including larger players such as Saudi Arabia.
The response from the Arab world has probably been the most surprising outcome of these agreements. Israel has been pursuing peace agreements since it’s inception, and the Arabs have been rebuking any such offers for decades. It seems that independent negotiations with Arab nations have been much more successful than trying to work a unilateral agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
It seems like all the players that matter is getting what they want too. Israel gets peace, and the Middle-East gets new vast economic opportunities. Perhaps everyone’s simply happy to unite against Iran, their common enemy.
Swords in Plowshares?
So does this mean that the violence in the Middle-East is over? Nooo, not by a long shot. The Palestinians themselves don’t get much out of this agreement. Most of the Middle-East is chock-full of human rights abuses and religious conflicts. Christian persecution in places like Lebanon is rampant. Homosexuals are still being thrown off buildings. Women’s rights are basically non-existent.
But I’m optimistic! It’s a first step- a big step in the right direction. We can’t expect to solve every problem immediately. We have to think in the long term. The US didn’t abolish slavery when the constitution was ratified, but it created a framework that paved the way for the abolishment of slavery later down the line. Perhaps ten, twenty, fifty, or a hundred years from now, the Middle-East will be radically transformed. It all starts with taking the first step.
I’m reminded of a good metaphor. A man asks another, “How can you eat an entire Elephant?”
The other responds, “One bite at a time.”